This week, I fulfilled a promise to my constituents by voting to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). By doing so, I not only fulfilled the desire of the majority of Utahns, but helped set in motion a process that will ultimately bring relief to Utah families and small businesses.
For years, I have heard from constituents who have suffered the adverse effects of the ACA. Just recently, I learned of a young family who couldn’t afford the $8,000 deductible associated with their daughter’s checkup. Another constituent who has an 8-month old son that is seriously ill, cannot afford to take him to the hospital because of high copayments, high deductibles, reduced coverage and increased premiums.
Tragically, these stories are not uncommon.
Premiums have risen, and are expected to skyrocket 22 percent by the end of this year. One-third of U.S. counties have only one insurance provider, 70 percent have only one or two and a rapidly increasing number of counties have no providers.
The status quo is unacceptable and unsustainable. The ACA was always doomed to fail. Now we must move forward, even with small steps. Understanding what this bill does and does not do will help guide important dialogue and debate in the months ahead.
The biggest misconception about the replacement for ACA is about pre-existing conditions. NO STATE, under ANY circumstances, may get a waiver for guaranteed issue of coverage, guaranteed renewability of coverage or the prohibition on denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions. This bill also ensures that no one can be denied coverage.
Critics question whether people would be priced out of the market. It is important to note that 5 percent of patients account for 50 percent of health care costs and that is part of why premiums keep growing. To address these issues, the bill will help states set up programs for high-risk individuals, premium stabilizers or the federal invisible risk-sharing program. Tammy Hodson contacted me concerning coverage for her son Parker. Parker is a sweet kid with great potential, but he will need a great deal of treatment throughout his life. In considering this health care bill, I made decisions from the prospective of a mother. Before voting, it was imperative, that I kept health care coverage for Parker and so many children like him.
Some have said that women are not protected in this bill. This bill does not eliminate the standard that women and men are treated equally when it comes to cost. NO STATE, under ANY circumstances, may obtain a waiver for pre-existing condition protection, prohibition on gender discrimination — for guaranteed issue and renewability — or for the right of dependents to stay on a family plan up to age 26. Also, access is not removed for preventative and screening services, like mammograms and well-woman visits.
There have also been reports that rape and sexual assault victims will be unable to get any help. This is far from the truth and as stated above, no one can be denied coverage under the American Health Care Act (AHCA). In addition to health insurance, there are many resources available for victims, including those from law enforcement, emergency care teams and community health centers.
A key benefit of this repeal is the elimination of the $1 trillion Obamacare tax burden on the American people. The AHCA abolishes the individual mandate tax, the employer mandate, the medical device tax and allows people to put aside more pre-tax money to pay a wide variety of medical expenses.
Congressman health care
Congress should never be given special carve outs or protections. There was a provision in the bill that I strongly opposed — making it so that Congress and their staff were exempt from future changes in state law. To fix the problem, I co-sponsored a bill to strip out this language. That maneuver was supported by all members in the House and was an easy fix to the bill.
My vote for the AHCA is the beginning of a process that gives decisions and resources to the states and individuals rather than the federal government. I trust Utahns to do what is best for them and their health care. I look forward to the Senate’s work on the bill and its improvement. This is an important step toward a 21st century health care system that lowers costs, revamps the insurance market, improves access and increases the quality of care for all Americans.
Mia Love represents Utah's 4th Congressional District.